Y’all, this website drama has been putting me through it!
Without going into all kinds of boring details that no one cares about anyway, a couple of months ago my website went offline. There were some problems with the servers and in the time it took to resolve, all the databases that stored my content were lost. I’ve been able to track down some of the stuff that means the most to me, like many of my old blog articles, but a lot of content and photos were lost. This new site that you’re looking at is my World of Champagne 2.0, and it’s me taking this situation and turning it into an opportunity for growth and change. I’ve wanted to revamp and restyle the website for several years, but I just got so comfortable with how things were. I understood the layout of my old site, I knew how to run the basics, and it just seemed like such a huge obstacle to learn everything I needed to learn to change it. Being forced to start over was painful, but it also gave me that kick in the ass I needed to realize my vision in a bigger, grander way. I hope you’re as excited about the results as I am.
But enough with the celebration. I wanted to use my first blog on the new site to talk about where I was during the weeks (almost two months in total) that my site was offline. You might have noticed that during this time, I was much quieter on social media; I wasn’t posting as much to Instagram and I wasn’t doing my regular (and some might say, annoying!) Facebook Live streams. I was feeling a little lost.
When you’ve spent almost half your life building a persona, what happens to the person underneath?
So much of my life is centered around being Janessa. I love doing shows and meeting the audience, and there are so many blessings that I have because of the drag career that I’ve built. But sometimes I think I’ve neglected the person behind the performance. When my website went down, I had a bit of an identity crisis: if I’m not Janessa, and I’m not actively creating and promoting that persona, then who am I?
Most of the people in my life are there because of Janessa: I met them at shows or at a Days of the Dead convention, and they primarily know me under that persona. Would they still be there if I dropped the act? What do I have to offer beyond the performance? And if the time ever came to retire this side of myself…what’s left?
I know that sounds really dramatic, and in a way it is. I talk about myself and my drag persona as if we are two separate entities, but the truth is much more complicated than that. I am the creator of my drag persona, taking inspirations and influences from all around me, but everything that is produced is me. And when I wipe off the paint, pieces of that persona have slowly crept into my daily life. True there are some people who only know me one way or the other, but the two interact and inform one another.
The time offline was a little scary, and it made me ask a lot of really hard questions. But it also forced me to come up with the answers.
What I love most in this world is creating, whether that’s creating a sassy, raunchy drag persona, sitting on the couch bending metal to make jewelry, or trying to wrestle words into something interesting that hopefully someone else might want to read and connect with. Even if the medium evolves, even if the name on the card changes, I’m always going to be playing around and experimenting and creating. That’s what ties the whole thing together. As long as I can find ways to nurture that creativity, I’m going to be just fine.
As for the line between person and persona? I’m still not entirely sure, but I know that I’m not done playing with that particular creation just yet. I’ve still got a lot more to learn, and a long way to go in figuring out what this journey is all about. I’m just glad that there are people, however they got there, that want to share a little time with me on the way.